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Publisher's Summary

From Wall Street to Main Street, John Brooks, longtime contributor to the New Yorker, brings to life in vivid fashion 12 classic and timeless tales of corporate and financial life in America

What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety; these notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened.

Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance. John Brooks’ insightful reportage is so full of personality and critical detail that whether he is looking at the astounding market crash of 1962, the collapse of a well-known brokerage firm, or the bold attempt by American bankers to save the British pound, one gets the sense that history repeats itself.

Five additional stories on equally fascinating subjects round out this wonderful collection that will both entertain and inform listeners... Business Adventures is truly financial journalism at its liveliest and best.

©2014 John Brooks (P)2014 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting book

I found this book on Bill Gates favorites ever list. I guess it was recommended to him by Warren Buffet. Gates said he read it once in the 70's and again recently and thought the lessons were timeless and applicable. I'm trying to figure out exactly what he saw....😝

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A bit uneven; jumps around; has gems

This works for me. I have a broad and deep interest in business and financial history, and I'm always snagging stories from here and there and fitting the parts together into deeper understandings. Sometimes the author nails it here -- as in, giving a great plain-language explanation of central banking and international currency markets (and some wild swings, say, in the pound sterling, presaging better-known recent ones, featuring the US and UK's coordinated battles with speculators, trying to reduce volatility in those markets). I always like a different but clarifying look at such things, from a bit different angle. But, this is a snapshot from the later-mid-1960s, so (like reading some older books or watching some older movies) it helps to have some bigger background and context. The earlier stories do fit well as prequels to more recent ones. This was written on the eve of the US dollar falling off the gold standard, and the emergence of the post-Bretton Woods world (things the author only guesses at, prospectively), so having more of the story helps.

Elsewhere there is a story about price-fixing among certain manufacturers in the 60s. These scofflaws got their knuckles rapped, somewhat, under the glare of public and governmental attention. Then there ensued the corporate game (also well known among politicians) in moments of scandal, of artfully evading responsibility. We have a ringside seat as this art is practiced by various execs under the hot spotlight. What a rhetorical dance! This is a fine tutorial (all done tongue in cheek) for anyone, I suppose, looking to glide through a public grilling in congressional hearings and parading before angry righteous citizens wielding pitchforks and torches, without breaking stride or losing that elite "teflon" panache (and somehow trying to sound ethical and even noble, or as a last resort, gullible, but no, not culpable!). I find plenty amusing and enlightening here. But the choice of topics is fairly random, and it does suffer from flat spots.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Old specialities

Old specialities for people with a lot of time available and with historical interest. Could be shortened to 25 % without problems. The Ford marketing mistake is OK.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Little dated but relevant

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes- I have already recommended it to my parents.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The original book was written in the 1970s. The stories are about business in that time period and earlier. There is a lot of information that is foundational to how business is conducted today but you will also see how it has evolved. The chapter on Texas Gulf was especially interesting to me because I grew up in Timmins.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Dated

I was disappointed with the book. The histories are too old and in my view they aren't classical enough

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Very old Book

If Warren gave this to Bill Gates, Bill was in his twenties at the time

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Underwhelming

I had high hopes, but was unimpressed with this book. I didn't mind that all the stories were from the 1940s and 50s, but none of them really grabbed my attention.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • PC
  • 03-15-15

Boring

I wish there would be an abridged version of this book. This was way too long compared to its actual contents. Pages after pages were wasted on describing irrelevant background where the moral of the story would turn out to be marginally significant. Waste of time in my view.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Delightful and well spoken!

What made the experience of listening to Business Adventures the most enjoyable?

The book is subtly humorous as the narrator nonchalantly describes harrowing tales of business failure and triumph. Business Adventures is also a eerily relevant reflection on the unpredictability of the world, and how profoundly uncontrollable the business world can be.

What other book might you compare Business Adventures to and why?

It's almost like reading the economist, if the economist was objective, humorous, and had a personable humanity.

Which scene was your favorite?

I found the most rewarding adventure to be about the accidentally cornering of Piggly Wiggly - listen and enjoy.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

What us rhyme silly tales of business history!

Any additional comments?

Very entertaining - contains a lot of wisdom.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Terrible waste of time and money!!!

If I could have selected less than one star, I would. Trivial useless info!! Can't believe that Gates and Buffett liked it!!?

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Kenny Marshall
  • 03-23-17

Great audio on companies, value and shares

Great audio on companies, value, stocks and shares. Lots of great stories to listen to. Lots of great learning points. The book is a good few decades old now but the themes are still relevant today. Would recommend a listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-15-16

Found out it's Warrens and Bills favorite bus book

Not that my opinion matters much on business it was a joy to find out that this was their number 1 favorite book on business and it's also mine it's amazing to think someone was able to put together a book from such a wide range of places. Must read!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-08-18

Hard going

I like business and I like back stories. This should be a gem but boy is it tedious! Sorry but it is. Maybe a bit too much repetition. Stories could have been shorter but seem to get bogged down in detail and endless repetition. Sorry I feel quite drained trying to read it! Maybe it’s me and I’m just not smart enough but someone edit it to about 50% of its volume and if would be excellent

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • spencerhudson
  • 10-08-17

Business in context 20th century

What I find astounding about this book is the way many stories bring to life business in the mid 20th century ... success and failure are presented ... collectively the stories illustrate that while some things change others always remain the same.

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  • Richard Moss
  • 01-05-17

Dissatisfied & disappointed

This is not compelling listening & story two on Ford cars has nothing to do with Wall St.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • simon
  • 11-15-16

A gone-by era of finance told in a tone so fitting

I liked the tone and pace of this telling of these tales of a world from finance's past. Enjoyable and fascinating.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful